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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Birthday America! In honor of the 4th of July, I made some red, white and blue cupcakes. I love the 4th of July - summer parties and barbecues are my favorite way to celebrate. And there's the nice bonus of a 3-day weekend in the middle of summer. Plus there are fireworks and no matter how old I am, I always love fireworks. So Happy 4th of July to all of you - I hope you have a great holiday!
These traditional white cupcakes are from a Martha Stewart recipe and the buttercream is my usual recipe made with half shortening and half unsalted butter and clear vanilla extract to result in a true white icing.

You can use this technique to color cake for any occasion, just layer the batter in whatever order you like and bake. Don't shake the pan or the colors will begin to mix together. The easiest way to fill the cupcakes, in my opinion, is to mix up your colors, fill piping bags or Ziplocs with each color and then just add a bit of each color batter to the cupcake liners. I used gel coloring to tint the batter so as not to upset the balance of liquid ingredients with too much liquid food coloring. When making colors like red this is more important as it takes a lot of red coloring so it doesn't just look pink. In this case I used Wilton's No-Taste Red.

In order to make the detail on these festive white liners really showed up, I baked the cupcakes in one liner and then dropped the finished cupcakes into an extra cupcake liner, an unnecessary step but if I'm going to use cute liners, I want them to stand out.

To top these cupcakes, I used red candy melts to form stars. I just melted candy melts in the microwave, transferred to a squeeze bottle and piped stars onto parchment paper. I put them in the freezer to harden and then just peeled them off the parchment paper to top the cupcakes.

Red-White-and-Blue Cupcakes
Recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

14 T unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup plus 2 T milk (I used 1 cup skim milk and 2 T heavy cream)
1 T vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 T baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.

Beat butter on medium speed in mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar and continue mixing until light and fluffy, about two minutes. In a measuring cup, combine milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing on low speed until just incorporated. Alternate with 1/2 the milk mixture, ending with the flour. In a clean mixing bowl, mix egg whites with whisk attachment, increasing speed as the whites thicken, until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into cake batter.

Divide the batter into three equal portions. Add red food color to one bowl and blue food color to another. Thoroughly mix in the colors and transfer batter to three Ziploc bags. (To make it easier, fold the top of the bag over a large cup and transfer batter into bag. Gather bag so batter is in one corner and twist the top, cut off a small corner.) Squeeze a bit of each color into each cupcake liner and bake 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool about 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. When cool, frost as desired.


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